One Year On – An Interview with Martin Hodson
One year on from the start of the disruption to all our lives during this global pandemic, we thought we would interview our General Director, Martin Hodson, to hear his thoughts on the last year.
So Martin, we are almost one year on from the start of the first Lockdown and the start of the impact of Covid-19 on how we live.
During this last year, what for you has been the most striking thing that you have noticed about how the pandemic has affected not just churches, but society as a whole?
Our framework has been dismantled. In 2019 we were living with a set of expectations that governed the pattern and pace of our lives – how we worked, shopped, educated, socialised and worshipped. These seemed like the fixed points that defined life; whatever challenges or opportunities came along, they were within this known framework. In some senses the framework had the characteristic of a ‘god’ – determining the seasons and priorities of our lives. This disruption has brought both devastation and possibility, challenging some hidden assumptions of our culture and leaving us wondering after a year of this if and how we might make a different future.
It has been a very difficult and painful time for all of us for so many different reasons. What do you think people are looking for just now and how could we as the body of Christ help with this?
The forced separation and distancing of the last year has made us all value contact, community and connectedness more than ever. I believe our witness to the good news of Jesus will depend on churches embodying authentic community ourselves and playing our full part in (re)building local communities as we emerge from the pandemic. Putting relationships (with God and others) ahead of busy programmes may be the greatest blessing we can bring in the days ahead.
In the midst of challenge, what for you have been the positive aspects of this season?
The first lockdown caused my son and his wife to return from the USA and they ended up living with us for a few months. That was an unexpected and welcome surprise. Not being a dog-owner, I have discovered for the first time in my life the refreshing habit of taking a daily walk. Despite all the difficulties, I have grown in hope that this hiatus might result in positive changes in our society. It has certainly been a better time for the environment. And I have been thrilled to see the outstanding way churches have adapted and innovated to remain faithful in worship and mission.
Is there a particular scripture that has been meaningful to you during this time?
I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus Feeding the 5,000 (Mark 6.30+) and how, when it looks like a moment of scarcity, Jesus brings abundance. There have been times during the pandemic when that has been very real for me.
Lastly, we all need times to unplug, refresh and recharge. What are the things that you find helpful in order to recharge the batteries and feel closer to God?
I listen to a lot of music, and play a bit, which always gives me a few kilowatts of recharge. I have a love-hate relationship with running, but I keep at it. Taking time to be quiet with scripture and prayer has long been a vital part of my day and seems to make me more attentive to God’s presence at other times. Sometimes God just interrupts me. A special bonus during the pandemic has been the daily prayer times we share as the BUS staff team, where unexpected spiritual riches have emerged during the last year.